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Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

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Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jul 02, 2020 3:38 am

Recording myself playing a solo acoustic guitar tune, I am unhappy with the amount of string squeak. It's distracting to the music.

I can sometimes alter my technique and make the squeak reduce greatly, but I have not been able to control it. I am not sure what exactly I am doing that reduces the squeak when it does work. I am just thinking "try not to squeak", and it sometimes works!

I am talking here about playing jazz style chord solos on an acoustic guitar. On my electric, when I move from one chord form to another - no squeak. Same technique on the acoustic makes a loud squeak as I pick up my figure and move to a different jazz chord. It's definitely something along the lines of trying to shift while lifting the fingers. I can get away with on my electric jazz box, but not on the acoustic. The acoustic is a gypsy jazz style guitar. Sometimes just lifting a finger can squeak!>!

There must be some fundamental playing technique that helps reduce the squeak. Something I could practice. I know I can do it sometimes!?!

Has anyone figured this out and could share?

Much appreciated.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby ef37a » Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:08 am

My son has been playing classical guitar for a couple of years now (also jazz acoustic and rock electric) and a few months ago he was with his luthier, a fine player who told him his technique was poor. He was fretting the strings too hard and upsetting the intonation. This also exacerbated squeaks as he came off a chord. He has worked at this and improved.

However, if you put up The Masters on YT, Williams, Bream even they produce the odd squeak now and again. I suppose it is a bit like piano 'clatter'? Not heard well into the hall.

I shall now shurrup as the proper guitarists stir themselves!

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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby CS70 » Thu Jul 02, 2020 8:42 am

DC-Choppah wrote:Recording myself playing a solo acoustic guitar tune, I am unhappy with the amount of string squeak. It's distracting to the music.

I can sometimes alter my technique and make the squeak reduce greatly, but I have not been able to control it. I am not sure what exactly I am doing that reduces the squeak when it does work. I am just thinking "try not to squeak", and it sometimes works!

Gentle touch. Control of the pressure. Move up and then sideways, and not at the same time (a bit like fast gear changes in a car, it's two movements, not one). You've got to go back to basics and practice chord changes slowly, in two movements. Slowly means crawl-slow at start.

Wet your hands before playing and dry lightly :)

Some acoustic squeak is charming however, and we've come to expect it.. so ask a friend to listen and see if he/she detects something off. Most likely they won't - it's your mixing hat tricking you :)
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:53 am

What strings are you using? I don't seem to have problems with excessive squeaking when playing my Selmer style and use Argentines Gypsy Jazz strings. I thing bronze wound acoustic strings would be worse (I use coated strings on my other acoustics which helps reduce string noise).

Electric jazz box has flat wound strings so no squeak at all.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby shufflebeat » Thu Jul 02, 2020 9:59 am

CS70 wrote:
DC-Choppah wrote:Some acoustic squeak is charming however, and we've come to expect it.. so ask a friend to listen and see if he/she detects something off. Most likely they won't - it's your mixing hat tricking you :)

Once you've become sensitised to it string squeak can be intensely annoying so every instance jumps out where in normal listening it would just imply humanity, which isn't always a bad thing.

Where it is excessive I'd go first with CS70's suggestion of "lifting off" fingers before sliding up/down the neck. If that doesn't Improve matters then consider different strings.

Jazz players often use flat wound chromes which are pretty squeak free and this may be tweaking your expectations. Bluegrass flat pickers on phosphor bronze or nickel bronze in comparison will produce a bit more mouse.

I've recently gone back to nickel wound (electric) strings on an acoustic arch top and it has quietened the mouse no end. As the body sound is relatively quiet compared to a dread the string noise is louder by ratio.

[edit] Sam "Lightning fingers" just flashed in in front of me there, it'll be all that Gypsy Jazz practicing.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby ef37a » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:40 am

I have no way (or idea how!) to test this but I suspect the 'squeak' if it exists at all from an electric guitar is mostly acoustic? The signal is perhaps in the wrong 'polarization' to get into the pups?

The problem is of course worse for home recording bods because they are almost always forced to close mic because anything but RFH or Maida Vale sounds crap! If you find YTs of the two fellows mentioned previously you will find the mics well out in front IF you can see them at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fnB8E_N6M1Q

That ^ shows a mic a good mtr away? I have no idea if he squeaks! I probably couldn't hear it anyway.

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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby blinddrew » Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:16 pm

Correct answer is to work on technique.
Cheating answer, speaking from experience, is to try some D'addario Flat Tops or similar. They're all i use on my acoustics nowadays.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby Humble Bee » Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:41 pm

I can also recommend the D’addario Flat Tops. I have them on both my acoustics. :thumbup:

https://www.thomann.de/intl/daddario_eft17.htm
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jul 02, 2020 5:14 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:What strings are you using? I don't seem to have problems with excessive squeaking when playing my Selmer style and use Argentines Gypsy Jazz strings. I thing bronze wound acoustic strings would be worse (I use coated strings on my other acoustics which helps reduce string noise).

Argentine high tension
https://www.juststrings.com/sav-1510mf.html
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:21 pm

Ok those are what I use (well, medium tension 'cos they suit my 26.5" scale, 14 fret oval hole). Have you tried 10-45 med tension? The gauges are not much different but the lighter gauge sound better on the Aylward. When I had my Gitane I preferred 11's but can't remember if squeaking was an issue, I was too busy trying to learn those weird chords and phrases :D

Just a thought, are you playing Gypsy Jazz tunes or something else? Le Pompe rhythm technique involves lifting the fingers to mute the chord (forgive me if I'm preaching to the choir), a Selmer style might be excessively prone to squeaking when playing 'normal' chord style rhythm playing. I haven noticed and I do do that but I'll maybe give it a try later.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby merlyn » Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:28 pm

New strings squeak more than played in strings. Also it's only bass strings that squeak and I find it only happens when changing position. You mentioned that even lifting up a finger produced a squeak. Could that be dealt with by pointing the mic so it doesn't pick up sound coming from the fretboard area?
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:23 pm

ef37a wrote:He was fretting the strings too hard and upsetting the intonation. This also exacerbated squeaks as he came off a chord. He has worked at this and improved.

I think you are right Mr Dave. Extra finger pressure beyond what is actually needed to make the note is part of the squeak. Not all of it but part of it. And that extra pressure is just a waste of effort too. Good point. Need to keep aware of that.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:29 pm

I am playing jazz chord style solo guitar. Th melody gets carried on the top two strings.

I tend to want to play legato for the melody and try to connect the melodic phrase together. That means I don't lift my finger on the top two (melody) strings to get the sound I want.

Meanwhile, the wound strings generate squeak only. There is no squeak from the unwound strings.

So what seems to be happening is that when I play legato for the melody lines, the other fingers stay on the string too during a shift too. That makes a squeak.

If I try carefully, I can play legato on the melody note on the top strings but lift up the fingers on the wound string. Doing that different for the two parts seems to be the key. Hope that makes sense.


When I play my electric jazz box, I can hear that the strings do squeak, but this does not read much through to the amp. Meanwhile on the acoustic, the squeaks sort of resonate the guitar.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby DC-Choppah » Thu Jul 02, 2020 10:32 pm

ef37a wrote:I have no way (or idea how!) to test this but I suspect the 'squeak' if it exists at all from an electric guitar is mostly acoustic? The signal is perhaps in the wrong 'polarization' to get into the pups?
Dave.

Right! Somehow the same technique generates the same squeak on both electric and acoustic, but on acoustic it resonates the guitar and gets amplified. But on electric it is quieter.
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Re: Advice on guitar technique to reduce string squeak

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:22 pm

Savarez Argentines strings are specifically designed to give that characteristic 'bark' to a Selmer style guitar but maybe flat tops or flat woulds would be more suitable or the style of playing you are doing? Most jazz players use flat wound strings on an archtop for the mellow tone they impart.

It may be that the difference between the electric and acoustic WRT noise is the frequency response, acoustics produce much more high frequencies than electrics?

BTW I wouldn't expect the plain strings to squeak unless you rosin your fingers :smirk:
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